Xander came back a week later, looking at his boss.  "Sheldon finally agreed with me."

"I think you wore him down," Mac said dryly.  "You know where your lab is."  He grinned and jogged that way.  Mac shook his head.  "Too much energy for a Monday."  He followed at the yelling, going to see what was wrong.  The kid pulled a gun and shot something, holding up the rat.  "That's not helpful in here."

"It was nibbling on an evidence envelope.  We need to do an autopsy."

"We can do that."  He took it Sheldon.  "It ate a bullet we think."

"Wonderful."  He grimaced.  "At least it's a clean kill."

"Do you think he could do anything else?"

"Hopefully not.  Is he coming in here once he's clear again?"

"Probably.  I'll tell maintenance to put out quick kill traps so we can check.  Plus tell evidence to check for rats."  He went to do that.

Sheldon found a scalpel and opened the rat carefully, taking out the bullet and putting it aside.  He probed gently, not finding anything else in there.  Or in the lower intestines.  "Good."  He put the scalpel in the sharps container and carried the corpse down to the incinerator to toss it in.  The bullet got brought back.  "I think this is yours."

"That one had a bullet, a tiny shard of one."  He looked.  "Oh, no."

"Yup."  He watched as the guy rinsed the bullet off and ran it through the system, coming up with a case name and number.  "There was a writeup a few months back from Las Vegas that went over a case that had a frozen meat bullet."  Xander gave him an odd look.  "They packed and froze hamburger into a bullet mold.  Used it to kill someone."


"It was.  It went over how the ME distinguished it and all that."  Xander grinned at that.  "Let me check with Mac.  He was calling around."   Xander nodded so he left.  "He found where the bullet came from."

"Evidence," Xander called up the hall.  Mac's moan could be heard around the whole floor.  He walked in there.  "Want me to take a mini-crossbow and a few guns to hunt them down, Mac?"

"Please.  Clean kills, don't damage anything else if you can help it.  I'll have Stella help them check for rat marks."  He nodded, going to get what he needed.

"What are you doing?" Lindsay asked when she and Danny ran into him in the hallway.

"Rats," Danny said with a shudder.  He knew that was the only reason Mac would let Xander run around the lab with a loaded gun and a miniature crossbow that had small bolts attached to the grip for quick loading.

"I just got a bullet from one that had been in evidence lockup."

"Oh, damn," Danny moaned.

"He said I can hunt them down to kill them and Stella can check."

"Good for her; better her 'n me," he agreed.  "Have fun stalking."

"Thanks, I hope I will."  He presented himself to evidence with a manic grin.  "I got a bullet from a case out of a rat."

"We heard.  We have traps."

"Mine's faster.  Also, I need this case pulled," he said, writing down the information.  "Mac said Stella's on her way to help you guys."

"Why that one?"

"That's where the bullet came from."  They groaned but went to get that box and let him reseal the envelope inside another one that was plastic coated.  Small protection but slightly better.  He wrote a note on the top of the box with the date and handed it back.  Then he went to stalk in the shadows of all the shelves.  Hundreds of shelves with cardboard boxes full of stuff for the rats to nest on and nibble into.  He nodded at a maintenance guy, getting a funny look back but he held up his ID, just getting nodded at.  He left.  Xander paused and waited, dropping back into the hunting mindset.  He could hear the little filthy squeakers.  He stalked slowly closer, making sure his silencer was on.  He checked and came out, taking careful aim and firing on the rats.  They all died but one, which ran off.  He got it as it ran into a trap to hide.  It died no matter what.  He gathered them and moved on, stalking around the shadows.  Rats wouldn't like light.  He was a good hunter so he could do this.

He did pounce Stella, making her squeal and swat him but he grinned, handing her the box of rats.  She grimaced and swatted him again.  "Not a present a girl likes."

"Anya would have."

"Your ex isn't a normal girl."

"True, but she loved my wallet and my skills."

She swatted him again.  "I don't need details."

He grinned.  "Okay."  He stalked off.

"What are you doing?"

"Mac said I could hunt them.  I'm getting rusty on hunting skills."

She sighed, shaking her head as she carried the box of rats off.  She dropped the cages that had rats in them onto the box, letting them nibble on the dead ones for now.  She presented them to Mac.  "He's insane.  He's got a gun and a mini-crossbow down there hunting rats.  He even pounced me, Mac."

"He's having fun, Stella.  It's not often we'll get to let him hunt and track around here."


"Sorry.  Let Sheldon probe them for evidence.  How many boxes were compromised?"

"He marked about ten.  I've noted another fifteen.  Mostly nests."  She walked off to get back to work.  This was not how she wanted to spend her day off.  "Messer, if you're not busy come help me."  He groaned but came to help her.  "Sheldon, Mac has a box of rats for you to check and play ME with."

"Wonderful."  He had clearly spent too much time around Danny, he had sarcasm again.

"Javier's down there hunting them the old fashioned way."

"Of course he is."  He went to get the box of rats, frowning at the living ones.  "How should I kill you guys?"  He walked off with them, making Adam look disgusted.  "In evidence lockup."

"Not in my lab you're not.  Go use a layout room, Sheldon."

"Fine."  He went to do that.  They had magnifying lamps in some of them.  Long before he was done Stella was back with another live cageful.  "Gee, thanks."

"That's from the traps."

"Can't they kill them for me?"

"Sorry.  Not my call.  That was maintenance."  She walked off to go take a really long, hot shower.  Her skin felt dusty and like there was something crawling on it.

Xander showed up a few hours later with his new box of dead rats.  "Here you go, Sheldon.  All nicely dead and all that.  I added more traps down there so we should check for the next few days."

"Sure, I can do that.  I didn't want this before dinner."

"I'd help but I mangled my frog in biology."

"I'll have Sid or Marty help me."

"Hey, you are a rookie," Xander said with a grin.  "I got parts in an academy footlocker and a laundry bag."

"Never mind.  This isn't that bad.  I remember that case."  Xander grinned.  "That was your class?"

"Yeah.  Up the hall from me.  I turned in the old blood stench that his roomie thought was dirty socks."

"That's disgusting."

"Very.  Momma wouldn't let him be a trannie so he was changing people to the sex they should be."  He skipped off.

"Way to be Tackleberry," Don teased him.

Xander beamed.  "I love that compliment.  Thank you!"  He gave him a hug.  He went to find Mac.  "I killed eighty-two rats and one lizard thingy that I'm not sure what it was originally but it leapt out at me.  That's why it's got two holes.  Sheldon has it.  I added more traps from maintenance, including ones that kill them since they put out humane traps.  Don just gave me a great compliment by comparing me to Tackleberry and I'm done for the day, right?"

"Go take a shower," he agreed, smiling just a little bit.  Xander skipped out with his weapons to clean them.  He shook his head, going to check on Sheldon, finding Sid in there.  "How many total?"

"Hundreds of billions," Sheldon said dryly, giving him a dirty look.  "Sid's taking over for me.  Even though I can't eat right now I'm going to take a water break, Mac."

"That's fine, Sheldon.  They'll still be dead rats tomorrow."

"No, Stella kept bringing me live ones."

"We can kill them humanely," Sid assured him, taking the box to do that.  He found something in Xander's lab and went to put it into a fuming container.  It was airtight.  He set off the gas before tossing it inside, timing it until they all died.  "There, that's nicer."  He vented it through the exhaust system then grabbed the rats.  The gas canister could finish discharging.  "Mac, I used fingerprints to gas them with something from Javier's lab."

"Do I want to know what he has in that cabinet under his sink?"

"Probably not."

Mac went to check and smiled at the gas being used.  It was running out so he disposed of it properly and finished venting the chamber before going to look.

"That scarily looks like a serial killer's stockpile," Lindsay joked from the doorway.

"Sometimes it's necessary.  Today it was to kill the rats that invaded evidence."  She shuddered.  "Since you're here, go help Sid check the remains for evidence."

"Yes, Mac," she said, trudging off.  It was clear this was another rookie job.  She had more talent than this if they'd let her show it.  "Sid, Mac said you need help?"

"Yes, I'm afraid Squeaky here and all his kin decided to nest and eat in the evidence boxes."  She groaned.  "We have to check each one for stomach and intestinal contents."  He handed her a scalpel.  "They're all dead now."

"This is gross."

"True, but it is necessary.  It won't help if someone's case comes up and the evidence has been eaten and never found."

"Good point I guess."   She sat down on a stool, bending down to do that.  "What is that smell?"

"The gas I used to kill the live ones."

"Javier left live ones?"

"Maintenance put out humane traps.  We'll have to check them tomorrow and for the next few days."

"Can't the guys down there do that?"

"Yes but we'll still have to search for any evidence."  He got back to work, humming.  "You have quite expensive tastes, little one.  That is a diamond necklace."  He pulled it out and rinsed it off before putting it aside to be checked against the inventory so it could be put back.  "We do have some interesting artifacts of someone's life down there," he decided.  He checked that one for more evidence bits and then put it aside.  The Shift Commander walked in.  "Hello.  Come to see what the rats nibbled on?"

"I heard stories of one of this lab's people down there with a gun?"

"Elton from ballistics did," Sid agreed.  "Clean kills.  You might ask Mac.  He's still here somewhere."

"I can do that."  He looked at the pile of rats and moaned.  "How many?"

"Over two hundred all told.  Elton brought in eighty-two he said."


"Maintenance unfortunately put out humane traps so we've had to kill those up here, sir."

"I'll make sure they put out killing traps," he said, walking off to find Mac.  "Is your ballistics tech insane or just warped?"

"Slightly warped," he said without looking up. "I told him he could as long as there was no evidence or other damage."  He looked up.  "Beyond Stella's nerves because he pounced her to hand over some, he had a very happy day.  He hasn't had to hunt or track anything in months.  Did he do more damage?"

"He scared the crap out of the guys down there, Taylor."

"Then next time they should keep up their monthly rat checks," he said dryly.  "Elton hunts.  He was clear today so I let him have a treat.  He had a mini-crossbow too."

"A DA saw and called me."

"Did the DA hear why?"

"He said the kid presented him with a pregnant dead rat when he asked what he was doing."

Mac smiled.  "He wears smartass t-shirts under his button ups too."  The Shift Commander shook his head.  "He can track in the woods.  He didn't mean to freak anyone out.  He was having some fun hunting the little things."

"The other hundred and some?"

"Probably from the traps.  I know they put down traps."

"Your ME said they put down humane traps."

"I saw he had to kill some.  Stella and the guys down there were checking the traps and the boxes for the others.  Of course they gathered more since he was hunting on his own."

"Wasn't he recently on injury leave?"

"He was in LA and had to have a hundred-seventeen stitches.  They're mostly out at the moment.  It made him happy."

"Fine.  I don't want to know."

"Probably not.  I didn't.  It was a rare treat until we have a manhunt in the woods."

"I don't need to know."  He walked off to make that report.  The higher ups could be amused by that ballistics tech.  At least he hadn't caused any more damage.  Bonasera and the usual workers down there had caused some.

Mac finished his paperwork, sending Sam an email about that question.  That way they'd be warned if Xander hadn't babbled at them already.


Sam looked at his phone as it beeped.  "Xander's happy mood is because he got to hunt rats all day in evidence lockup."  Dean shuddered.  "He got eighty-two and got to freak people out."  He looked over.  "Mac said he had a gun and a mini-crossbow."

"It was the most fun I've had all year," Xander called from his room.   He came out changed and cleaned up.  "I got to stalk and hunt all day long."  He flopped down.  "Stella handed over a lot of live ones."

"Why were you doing this?" John asked.

"They were nibbling on evidence."  John whimpered.  "We can't use it to convict if it's in rat pellets."

"Good point, I guess," Dean agreed.  "Still gross."

"Very," Xander agreed.  "But Sheldon and now Sid and Lindsay are getting to dissect."

"I don't want to hear about that," John said quickly.  "It was bad enough when I had to hear about you doing your frog in biology."

Xander grinned and patted him on the arm.  "It'll be okay, John.  Be thankful I decided against medical school.  There you get cadavers."

"Shut up, Xander."

"Yes, John."  He settled in to watch tv with them.  He grinned at Dean.  "I got to pounce Stella and scare the crap out of her.  It's even dark and kinda creepy down there."

"Sammy could use the skill check," Dean offered.  "The next time you need it, bring him."

"Sure, I can do that."

"No you can't.  I doubt they'd let a non-officer do that," Sam said quickly.  Xander texted a message to Mac, getting Sam an email offer to come help the next time.  "Xander!"

Xander grinned.  "Anya said you torture friends and family for fun and giggles."

"Not us," Dean said.  "We get you back."

"Enough," John ordered.  "No more playing tonight."  Xander pouted.  "You quit."  He nodded, picking up his new journal to flip through since Dean was watching a car show.  He looked at Sam, getting a clueless look back from his son.  He glanced at Xander then back at him.  Sam gave him a dirty look.  He glared and glanced at the boy then back at him.  Sam got the point that it was a 'make him sane somehow' order so he got up and pulled Xander with him into the bedroom.

"Let me check the last few stitches, Xander."

"Sure, Sam.  Then we can prank your dad for his pointed hint that I should be loud with you."  Dean cackled as they closed the door.  Sam kissed him, making him moan.  "All you had to do was ask.  Don even gave me a great compliment, he called me Tackleberry."

Sam pushed him onto the bed, kissing him again.  "That's good, Xander."  He moved down to play with his throat, making him a happy boy.  A very happy boy a few minutes later when Sam moved lower to tease him.

John looked at the bedroom door at the loud noises coming out.  "Is he usually that loud?"

"Didn't let him bring girls home, Dad?" Dean teased with a grin.

"Hell no.  He likes dangerous things.  I didn't want to hunt and clean them from the apartment each time he wanted to date."  Dean laughed.  Xander got louder and suddenly it went quiet.  "Did he kill him?"

"I think he plugged the hole, Dad."  John blushed, going to his own room to hide from the noise.  Dean got comfortable, watching his show on Mustang racing and how they made concept cars.


Xander nearly skipped in the next morning.  Mac caught sight of his shirt and moaned. _9 out of 10 voices in my head agree that I'm sane_.  "Overshirt?" he asked impatiently.

"Locker," he replied instantly then grinned.  "Awww, can I hunt down the person who decided to crap in your speciality, all good grains cereal this morning for you, Mac?"

Mac stared at him.  "Do I have to worry about someone else coming to try to buy you today?"

"No, Sam can't really afford me yet, but I'm going to teach him alchemy one of these days."

"I don't want to know."  He walked off shaking his head.

"That means the shirt's effective," he reminded him.  "The stick up your ass is smaller," Xander muttered to himself.  He signed in and headed for the locker room, making Danny cackle when he read his shirt.  "I cheered Mac up too," he said with a grin.

"You made him go take something for his headache?  Good for you," Danny praised, clapping him on the arm, getting a hiss.  "Stitches?"

"No.  Sam was mean and bit me when I wiggled."

Danny gave him a look.  "TMI."

"Sorry.  John said the same thing at breakfast."

Danny walked out chuckling, heading to the lab.  "Hey, Mac, do I have a scene yet?" he called when he spotted him.

"Don't tempt them.  They're sleeping in today," Stella yelled from her work area.  She watched their young ballistics tech walk, making him turn around when he saw her looking.  She burst out laughing at his shirt, making Adam and Sheldon look too.

"I don't want to know," Sheldon decided.

"That so fits him," Adam giggled, leaning on the table. "I wonder which one disagrees."

"Overshirt," Mac called.

"I am.  I'm missing a button somewhere," he called back.  He found his stitching kit in the lab and worked on getting his spare button from the inside onto that empty spot, looking up at Mac.  "See, I'm fixing it."

"Uh-huh.  I see you have work today."

"I also see someone was in my lab and moved shit around.  I was about to yell about that."

"We had a temp tech from non-felony in last night."

"And they absolutely felt the need to rearrange things on me?"

"I don't know.  Let me check."  He went to his office, finding the note.  He brought it back.  "He filed a complaint that you have untagged guns, that you have a personal scene kit in here, that you have non-ballistics related chemicals in here?"  Xander pointed at the stuff under the table.  "Okay.  Also that you have food in your desk?"

"Now and then for when I forget to eat or I need a sudden bit of sugar."  He showed him.  "Well, it was here.  He can pay me back for that when he goes back to his own lab."

"Chad's back on leave for his leg, Javier."

"And?  I filled in last time and I can damn well do it again.  Send the stupid fuck back to his own lab.  I do not like people touching my twinkies, Mac."

Mac coughed.  "That sounded worse than it was."

"Or that either."  He got down to look.  "He was in my scene kit.  He opened things."  He held up a formerly sealed container.  "That means it has to be replaced."

"I'll talk to his supervisor."

Xander looked over.  "I can handle it, Mac.  If I need help, I'll ask."

"Fine.  We're coming up on the summer gun crime season."

"So?  I'm doing all my samples within a day right now.  Even if I get backed up, I'll work a few more hours."

"Fine but the first time you start to act overloaded or I get complained at like I did that one week, we'll get you a temporary helper for a day."

"Please make it someone who doesn't tamper and check my exemplar on the way out."  Mac checked and nodded it was fine then left to talk to that supervisor so she could talk to her person about being an idiot.  Xander sighed, settling in to work on his newest case.  It's not like he had tons of samples to sort through.  Even with the ten bullets the rats had eaten that he had to rematch, it wasn't that bad.  By the end of his shift he had most of it done.  He was walking around handing out reports when he saw someone go into his lab and walked in there to shove him back out.  "My lab, who are you?"

"You must be the tech that's screwing up," he said smartly, sneering at him.

"For your information, those untagged guns are *mine*, not the lab's."   The tech gave him a horrified look.  "I am rated as a field tech and yes I do occasionally need a snack.  I can sit at my desk and proofread reports while I nibble on something.  As for those other chemicals?  They're because I can use them.  My minor is in trace."  The man backed further away from him.  "I don't care what your whiny ass opinion is about *my* lab, but go back to yours before I beat you to death for getting into sealed containers in *my* scene kit."

"But... but..you're a rookie tech."

Stella walked up behind and pointed.  "Read that."  He walked in to read it then went pale.  "Elton, language and yelling issues.  Stop it.  I'm the only bitch allowed in this lab."

"Unless it's about protocol issues or my personal stuff in my own lab, go for it," he assured her with a grin.

"Good.  I'm glad we understand each other."

"He tried to have me suspended, Stella."

"I heard."  She walked the stunned tech out.  "Not only that but he has knowledge of ancient and artillery based weapons too.  He's updating on those skills."  She looked at him.  "Didn't Mac tell you you didn't have to come back tonight?  That Elton could handle it?"

"The Chief of Detectives said I was."

"He never cleared it with Mac or told me," Xander told him simply.  He handed Stella the stack of reports.  "Most of those are Monroe's or Danny's.   Wherever they're working right now."

"Upstairs."  She smiled when Mac and the Chief of Detectives came up.  "We had a small problem with Tech... Anders, right?"  He smiled and nodded.  "Thinking he rules ballistics and Elton."

"Anders does have seniority."

"Elton is rated higher by the Feds," Stella told him, making him scowl.  She got the framed article down and showed it to him.

"John's son Sam framed that for me when he found it," Xander said, grinning at Mac.  "I kinda snapped, I admit it and I'll be spanked or work a day without pay, Mac."

"With the way he broke into sealed containers in your scene kit, I'm sure you had a reason to.  Also, you'll be putting back the food he had in that one drawer.  He is allowed to since he does forget to eat now and then for days on end."  The tech's mouth fell open.  "Something in his early training which you don't need to know about.  I'm very sure Javier doesn't break any protocol in any manual.  He's quoted chapter and verse to another tech."  Stella handed him the reports.  "Danny and Lindsay's?"

"And one for Flack since he had that dropped gun on his porch.  It was clean and registered but the owner had just been arrested for domestic violence against her husband so I'm guessing he was taking it out of his harm's way."

"I'll let him know that.  Are you clear?"

"Within one sample, and that's one I need to talk to the tech about.  It's gluey for some reason and I need to get permission to scrape it."

"Which tech?"


"I saw her up the hall."

"I was going to deliver reports when I saw him walk into my lab like he owns it."

"No, it's your lab.  Chad may be on leave but I agree.  You're clearing all the guns the same day.  Unless we have a sudden backlog that slows things down you're good to cover, Javier."  He looked at the Chief of Detectives.  "He's one of our most speedy, accurate techs because he can type pretty fast and does shorter reports instead of longer, wordy ones."

"Which I heard the prosecutors like," Danny said as he walked up to them.  "Hey, Anders.  Any of those mine?"  Mac handed over the stack, getting one back.  "Thanks, guys.  Javier, anything good before I look?"

"Six matches out of nine.  The other three had two listed but not to any living person and one had a match for a bullet but the case was still open after two years and the gun wasn't in the system."

"Wonderful.  Thanks, man."

"Welcome.  Those are Lindsay's too."

"She's mostly on the same cases."

"She sent me two with just her initials."

He looked again, finding them.  "Huh, she did."  He looked at him.  "Good remembering.   You clear?  I think someone used something like a pointy stick and Sid disagrees with me."

"Let me make sure my lab's clean for the night and let Mac see that sample before I talk to Hermosa.  Then I'll meet you down there."

"Cool."  He walked off happier.  He went up to the next floor, handing her the pile.  "Your two are on top right now.  The rest are our nine samples."  He'd hand Flack his later.

She looked at hers.  "That's good to know.  I pulled the gun and bullets out of my new place's closet.  It was under the floor."

"Good catch."  He grinned as Stella walked in.  "He slap him yet?"

"No, Anders is pouting back to his supervisor to talk with Mac and him about breaking into his scene kit."

"He's really field rated?" Lindsay asked.

"With a minor in trace," Danny told her.  "He worked a scene back at the academy.  He did some on his ride-along.  He did some when we were hiring you and Doc.  He's multi talented."

"He agreed, he's only a noisy person about his lab and his things in his lab, plus the protocol in his lab," Stella told him.

Danny grinned.  "So he doesn't need your crown?"

"He'd better not but Mac's going to say something about his mouth probably.  He swore at Anders."

"I'd swear at Anders.  He's an asslicking little bastard who tried to have him suspended for having his scene kit ready in case we need him."

"He broke into his scene kit to open sealed containers," Stella told him, getting a moan and head shake from Danny.  "Yeah, he's in trouble and Javier didn't yell that much this time.  Did you see his t-shirt today?  The Chief of Detectives did and nearly had a seizure from swallowing his tongue."

"Yeah, during lunch," he agreed with a grin.  "It fits him really well."

"Uh-huh.  I'm agreeing with Mac about the need for a button up."

"He does, it keeps GSR off his shirts," Danny said with a one-sided shrug.

"Good point."  She walked off shaking her head.  "He headed for the morgue."

"Thanks."  He headed down there to talk to him.  "Hermosa in?"

"Yeah.  She took the bullet back to scrape it first then she'll send it back."  That got a nod from him.  "It had gluey stuff on it.  I didn't want to destroy evidence and that's protocol."

"It is.  Hey, Sid, pulling out mine," he called.  Sid pointed at an occupied table.  "Thanks."  He let him see the marks.  He noticed the gloves and smiled.  "See, stab wound with a sharp, pointy thing.  We found wood.  It's not a staking injury I don't think unless they missed."

Xander looked then got a rod to measure depth and angle.  "It's too thin for a stake unless they're the size of a heel."  He considered it then grinned.  "Did you see the fashion show last week?"

"I don't do those things."

"Well, one had these shoes on," he said, moving to the nearest computer to log onto the internet and find them, letting him see.  They were basically very small blunt points at the end of the wooden stiletto heel.  "That's not the same shape, right?"

"Not quite.  The end's still pointier than that."  He grimaced and went back to look.  Danny looked at the shoes.  "Those look like they hurt."

"Yeah, they probably would."  He stared at the hole, then around.  "Can we cast it?"

Sid brought it over.  "One step ahead of you."

Xander looked at it, turning it into proper side down.  "Were they up on something?  That's a downward angle.  Unless they were doing it to themselves but that would be a more steep angle, right?" he asked Sid.

"Usually, yes.  I thought they might've been somewhere higher and accidentally ran into it as well but I couldn't be sure.  Maybe being prodded before they were killed? Something like that?"

Xander looked at it.  "Was it a fast, hard injury or a slow injury?"

"Fast, hard, and not very deep.  The skin that was torn wasn't torn much beyond the radius of the wound.  With the point being sharpish but not really sharp, it would've had to tear through the skin."

Xander looked then closed his eyes, imaging that wound and how it got there.  He opened his eyes.  "Did we find any animal fur on his clothes?"

"He was found naked."

"Would the way his legs are splayed like that mean he did something like riding horses?  That could be a lance point.  It almost seems to get bigger.  Like maybe he fell onto one that was being held?"

Danny stared at him for a second.  Then at Sid.  "You said his hips showed splaying?"

"I did.  That is one reason.  The width would indicate a larger, draft type horse if that's the reason.  Which knights would ride due to their armor."

"Also, strap bruises," Xander said with a point.  "That's where you do bra straps and chestplate straps.  There, and here," he said, pointing at another set of marks.  He looked up.  "So maybe it was a lance.  He fell off a horse or a stage onto one that was being held or somehow being held up."

"Falling forward would account for that angle," Danny admitted, taking the cast to look at it.  "I can see why you think it's getting bigger.  Do we have an ID, Sid?"

"Not from me."

"So let's take it to the Renfair in the Park people," Danny decided, grinning at Xander.  "Thanks, kid."

"Welcome.  You might also try the local SCA chapter.  They're sometimes the same but not always."  He looked at his hands.  "He must wear gloves.  There's no sword calluses.  That's a soda cap callus."  He let them see his.  "These are from my axe," he said with a point.  They nodded.  "This rub here in the frog between his thumb and forefinger I have no idea of why."

"You can hold your reins that way when you ride," Lindsay said as she walked over.  She looked, comparing it to her hands.  "He must've been wearing gloves but the calluses except for this one here are the same as mine and I do ride."

"That's a soda bottle cap callus," Xander told her. "From holding and opening two-liters and twenty-ounces."  She nodded at that.  He handed back the cast of the wound.  "So maybe like a parade rider for them?  Somehow he fell onto he lance or something?  Or a flag pole could end up like that.  Maybe a portcullis gateway rod?  I don't know."

"I can check that, see if they'd know," Danny said.  "Good thinking."

"Thank you."  He grinned.  "Let me go get chewed on by Mac for swearing at the idiot who threw out my emergency twinkies."  He left, going back up to his office.  "Are you going to yell or suspend me?"

"No.  You had every right to get him out and yell at him.  I do want you to work on your language.  I know many Marines who swear less."

"Sorry, the guy who possessed me that Halloween was Army and a former Ranger."

Mac cracked a smile.  "I know sailors who swear less than you and Dean do.  Work on that."

"Yes, Mac.  I may've helped Danny.  Hermosa said she'd scape it and send it back to me tomorrow."

"That's fine.  We'll find someone competent who doesn't beg to play politics with the higher ups if you need a day off."

Xander shrugged, leaning against the doorway.  "As long as no one touches my guns...."

"I know.  They're your babies."  Xander nodded.  "Did you ever think about getting a pet?"

"John said it'd be hard if we had to suddenly move and forgot the cat.  Plus they don't travel easily.  I'd love a dog."

"Talk to him about it since you're fairly settled."  Xander beamed.  "I saw that article.  Good job."

"Thank you.  Sam had it framed for me."

"It's one of those things you celebrate.  Even when you're not used to praise.  It's like making the Tech's Honor Roll."

"I know.  I didn't want to seem like I was bragging."

"We'd forgive you for that one.  Speaking of, yearly certification?"

"I did it two weeks ago.  I should be hearing it soon.  I did it at the ATF office."

"Huh.  I'll call and check.  Do you think you did okay?"

"They gave me pretty basic guns and I found all they wanted to know within the time limit.  I was taking a drink break in the corner when they came in.  One gave me a dirty look but found all my work done so he stomped off.  Unless they're being petty."

"I'd hope not.  Who gave it?"


"I'll call but those are states.  You need to redo your federal as well?"

Xander nodded.  "I take that in DC in two weeks?"  Mac nodded.  "Okay.  John knows already.  It's taped to the fridge.  Can I have interns if I stay a few more years?  I remembered I liked to teach them.  Even if I did get called scary and a bit warping."

"We'll see."  Xander grinned and left.  Mac made that note as well.  Then he called over there because he should have heard back by now.  "Bill, Mac Taylor.  My ballistics tech did his state qualification through you guys and Pierson?"  He hummed.  "Why are the scores invalidated?  He said he was in the corner.  Already finished as well."  He leaned back slightly.  "I can tell him that.  Is he in trouble?"  He texted him to come back up.  He came jogging up.  "Here, you talk to him?"  He handed over the phone.  "That's a supervisor over the labs."

"Sir, this is Elton."  He listened.  "No, that was also me, sir.  I had to change my identity due to a death threat.  They knew that.  Remember when the University of Chicago got a few teachers taken hostage a few years back?  They wanted me.  Yes, that death threat," he agreed with a grimace.  "That would also be me but I can't be that me while they're being them.  Yes, I did make note of that situation on my federal qualifications and the interviewer asked me why so I told him the truth about the Council wanting me dead."  Mac gave him a funny look.

"He already heard."  He went back to listening.  "He did know, sir.  I'm still listed in the files too."  He waited while he looked him up.  "Yes, the Federal interviewer for my certification did pass that up in a sealed note.  My teachers told them.  I told them because I didn't want to hide any of it.  Only the reason for it being out there since they didn't need to know."  He listened to him, sitting down to lean on the front of Mac's desk.  "That's not real fair since they said it wasn't a problem, sir."  He handed it back.  "He said I'm not qualified now since the Federal people knew."

"Bill."  He listened.  "No that's not the situation."  He listened to something.  "That's not him.  That's his guardian's sons."  He glared at Xander.  "I'll talk with him about that in a few minutes.  No, he's being guarded by John, not Dean and Sam.  Yes I'm sure.  And he'll be telling them about fixing that later I'm sure."

Xander took the phone back.  "Sir, if you know who I really am and who they really are, then you know why they're doing it and you know it doesn't pay anything.  No, I have money.  Without that I still have money.  Mad cursebreaker skills," he said blandly.  "Yes, of that sort."  He grinned.  "That is how I had it, yes.   Sir, to be blunt, if the Federal certification board said so, then can you really override it?"  He smirked and laughed a bit. "You can try.  I still have that sealed note and I still have an FBI agent who knows what went on.  He debriefed us after we took down that project, sir."

He gave Mac a smug look, writing a note, getting a grimace back.   Someone didn't like him for being there when the Initiative went down.  "That's fine, sir, but I didn't do that.  That was her, not me.  If so, I'll go around you so you don't feel the need to intervene.  After all, they wouldn't have tortured people and children if you had done your jobs sooner."  He hung up and called a contact he knew.  "Hi, it's me.  Yes, Harris.  Small problem.  The ATF supervisor here that I did my state qualifications through knew about the Initiative mess."  Danny walked past and closed the office door for them.

"Yes, he's trying my patience.  Mac seems to think he's generally a good guy but he tried to have me blocked due to the identity thing.  I'm doing that in two weeks.  I can do that. When is it being sat?"  He made another note, pushing it to Mac, who nodded.  "Mac said I can go to that one instead.  Will they know?"  He grinned.  "State and Fed at the same time?  I can definitely do that.  Dude, I can do some of them in the dark by feel.  You know that.  Also, he knew about hunters.  He didn't like John's kids.  Thanks, Billiam.  Happier night.  See you then."  He hung up and put the phone back where it should be.   "They're sitting new CSI qualifications then.  He'll do mine personally for state and fed."  He stood up.  "I've been giving Dean money so he doesn't have to."

"Make sure it's gone from the system.  It looks bad on you."

"If I had a list, I'd pay it off for them, Mac."  They shared a look.  "I'll talk to John later."

"Let me talk to John.  You relax and study."

"Study what?"  He gave him a look.  "I'm sitting my A level bombs that same day by the way.  He said so and he's bomb unit at the ATF in DC.  He said he'll call the local guys to chew on them for dinner."  He walked off.  The drive home as uncomplicated tonight so he walked in and looked at John.  "Mac said to take him for a beer."


"Because the local ATF office has someone who has heard about hunters and has a hard-on to catch you guys doing bad things.  He told Mac about the income generation method you guys used before."

"Aw, crap," Dean muttered.

Xander looked at him.  "I'll gladly fund you guys so you don't get arrested for it, Dean.  Not like I'm really immortal and I'll need it to make myself comfortable in a few dozen centuries."

"I'll talk with Taylor about what we can do about that issue," John said, standing up to find his boots.  "That way it doesn't get you looked at oddly by the Feds."

Xander snorted.  "Like I care, John.  They're Feds.  Half of them are less competent than the guy who subbed in my lab last night and screwed my scene kit up."

John winced.  "So you have to refill it again?"


"Damn.  That's an expensive shopping trip."

"I've got cash," he reminded him.

"Account's still locked."

"In this identity.  My last one's isn't."  John gaped so he handed his old ID card to Dean.  "Yours."

"I can't."

"You can.  It might mean the Watchers might show up but you're obviously not me.  Tell them I gave you my old one since I'm not using it."  He looked at John with a grin.  "I had two accounts left in Chicago that I didn't move.  There should be more than enough for the next five or so years of hunting, ten if they're really frugal."

"I can't," Dean told him, pushing it back.

Xander popped him on the forehead with the heel of his hand.  "You can because you'd hate prison sex."

"Son, it's not a bad idea.  Hold onto it until I talk to Taylor about this."  He looked at Xander.  "Have they said anything before this?"

"One of the interviewers gave me a long look when they saw you with me, asking if I was a son.  I told him no, you were protecting me from the people who were trying to kill me.  He left it there.  They have a sealed note about the identity problem and I did have them put on there that I'd be handing it to someone in need, but in a non-criminal way, once I considered it safer.  I thought it'd be someone like an abused spouse."

"Let me plot with Taylor, see what we can do, kids.  Dean, make sure he's fine."  Dean nodded.  He left, calling him on the way down to his truck.  He realized what was still in it and went to get Xander's keys instead and take his car.  He didn't want to show up to talk to Taylor with heavy weapons in the back of his truck.

Dean looked at him.  "They can still say I stole it."

"I can verify that you didn't.  That you got messed up with the death threat against me."  He sat down.  "We'll figure it out, Dean."

"I guess we will.  Why didn't you move it?"

"I figured whoever I gave it to would be someone like an abused spouse."

"Which is the sorta guy you are."

Xander grinned.  "Now you need it more."

"I'm sorry we got you in trouble."

"You haven't.  The testing panel has my original ID on that sealed note too."  Dean stared.  "I have a sealed Federal file thanks to the takedown of the Initiative, Dean," he said quietly.  "They already knew that I know that life.  That's why my teachers noted the death threat to them and they asked bluntly about my other ID."

"I guess that makes sense.  Do you have one set up in case you have to run?"

"Yeah but it's all off-shore."  He texted that to John as an option.  Then he looked at him.  "Like I told Mac, if I have to pay it off to keep you guys out of jail, I will."

"It's not right for us to depend on you for that."

"It's not right we don't get thanks and the occasional paid job for it," he said bluntly.  "If you guys set up like those Ghost Chaser people you might get paid jobs."

"Dad throws unholy fits about them."

"Oh, I've heard," he said dryly.  "Set up as the modern day Ghostbusters?"  Dean laughed at that. "Start up a quiet consulting firm."

"Sammy might like that idea.  Research and consulting for ghost issues?"  Xander shrugged.  "I'll talk to Dad about that."  He sent that suggestion as well.   "Are you still feeling unsettled?"

"Yeah.  I still feel like something's going to happen."


"I didn't think so.  I had it before the invasion."  Dean nodded.  "Hand me my laptop?  I want to ghost around some of the more paranoid underground sites I've found over the years."

"Will they find you?"

"Nope.  They don't like computers."  He grinned as he logged onto a chat room he hadn't been on in two years.  Someone demanded he prove who he was so he told them.  And that he was undercover as a normal in real life now.  They agreed to keep him hush-hush and he asked the question he needed to know.  Which apocalypse hadn't happened yet.  What he got back chilled him.  "Oh, shit," he muttered.  He found his phone and hit a code into it, listening.  "Don, I'm at home and I'm seeing something really bad that's supposed to happen locally.  I'd call Mac but he and John are talking and I need some ethical guidance.  Because there's another one coming to Sunnydale at around the same time.  I'm on an underground chat side for the Paranoid Underground, Don.  They're saying something's coming here and they'd know.  I'm getting information."

He hung up as he put that in, telling them he played with guns for a PD lab.  They hissed at that.  He said if he could prevent it, he'd do that.  They only had to send him intel.  He gave them his current ID and they praised him for yelling at Anders.  Someone in the lab knew.  He questioned her and she admitted she was a lab tech in Queens.  He grinned and asked if she knew.  She said they wouldn't tell her.  Xander started a chat with one of the people who would absolutely know.  He didn't want to talk so Xander pointed out he knew enough to be considered an accomplis and if Xander had to save the world this time, he'd come after him that way.  Telling him meant he could work on it without busting any of them.  He got a bunch of information all at once, all that he had gathered on everything in his city.  He thanked him and asked which part was the most important so he could sort.  He gave him a sorting key then hung up and had him kicked off the site.  Xander logged back in and said thank you and to watch for his next adventure then left again.

Dean took the papers being printed out.  "What is this?"

"Intel reports from a contact that hacks internationally."  He took it to sort out by the key, getting up when someone pounded on his door.  "You could've just knocked.  Come see.  One of the guys hacks underground and internationally."

"Are we talking terrorists?  Because I have a date in twenty minutes uptown."

Xander let him see something.  "Possibly but we have a local apocalypse and one going on in Sunnydale soon, Don."

"Okay.  For now, see if you can find anything else.  Get Mac to look at it."  Xander nodded.  "He's a good strategist and he has people he can talk to quietly about things.  Warn them in Sunnydale.  Because if we need you here, you're going to have to choose."

"The Watchers might be prompting it," he said quietly.

"Then warn them and help us.  They can get help from the people who were in LA, right?"  Dean nodded at that.  "Good."  He looked over the reports, groaning at some.  "See Mac first thing, before your shift."

"Yes, Don.  Thank you.  Happy date."

"I hope so."  He left, calling Mac on his way to his car.  "Expect an incoming person early with information from a friend of a friend."  He hung up and hurried to drive to where his date would be waiting impatiently.  "Sorry, one of our techs got some information he had to share," he offered as he got out and handed the valet his keys.  "Had to stop there on the way in."  He took her arm, walking her inside the nice restaurant.


to part 11

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